Woman on laptop

I spent Saturday evening in a very cool pub in Stockwell – the name escapes me, but I will post it in the comments section when I remember #worthavisit.  Anyway, my friend and I were talking about men (as you do) and the subject of online dating came up. Yes, I am engaged now, but I remember very well what single life was like. Truth is it had it’s ups and downs, just like being in a relationship…By Kiesha Meikle.

However, what I remember the most is the amount of pressure I was under to meet the ‘one’. Most of that pressure came from external forces “Remember you’re not getting any younger”, “Don’t leave it too late will you”, “Have you met anyone yet, or are you STILL single?” (For those of you who are single and in your thirties, you know exactly what I mean).

Now, I am not blaming anyone, because most of those people were just looking out for me and wanted to remind me of the facts – I was living a great life but deep down I was ready to meet someone and share my life with the right guy. Now, this is not to say it made meeting the right person any easier! I had almost every way recommended to me, speed dating, bars, blind dates and of course internet dating. I am an advocate of internet dating, but I can’t say that it is an absolute fail-safe – the not knowing who you’re communicating with actually scares me a little bit – but I understand the benefits. What it is, is an option. If you can exercise caution and you don’t do anything too reckless it can be fantastic.

Truth is, I have multiple friends who have met their partners online and so, for all the single ladies (who actually want to find someone, you know, without all the pressure) here is a breakdown of the most popular online dating sites according to my pals (and some internet research)…

Ok Cupid
Provides a math-based matching system to find your ideal match. It’s pretty accurate but realies on people being honest about stuff like their height and interests etc. The real bonus is that this service is completely free, which means there are ALOT of people on it – including a few who might be casually seeing what’s out there and who are not really committed to a relationship (be aware).This one is worth a try as it costs you nothing and you could meet your perfect partner.

Match.com is probably the most widely-used dating site in the UK. You create a profile, check out potential matches, send them a few messages and then arrange to meet for a date.  Match.com also have microsites for gay and lesbian dating, Asian dating, Christian dating and Polish dating.

With over 202 million users this site is immense. Another free service, apparently this website is not for the faint hearted due to their rather intense instant message pop-up system. You can actually talk to multiple people at the same time! A dating website for those who are able to juggle and don’t want to miss a trick.

…is the place for those who can’t believe their best friend is single – oh, even better they sell you in so you don’t have to! The site aims to get rid of the ‘cringe factor’ associated with having to big yourself up and makes it more of a fun community.

Again, this is a free service so you can’t complain too much. Invariably there will be a few people on this site that don’t really want a relationship but you never know, it may be worth a try even for some no strings dating whilst you look  for Mr Right – anyone for Mr Right Now?

Lovestruck helps you target potential partners according to location and it covers many of the major cities across the world. It’s aimed at time-starved professionals, who due to busy work and social lives simply don’t have the time to date. The site also hosts regular events which are a fun, relaxed way to meet people.

EHarmony matches singles based on key dimensions of compatibility proven to be the foundation for a long-term relationship, like character, intellect and values. I have a few friends who have tried this site, but didn’t like the extremely long sign up process. One friend even gave up because she told that she was completely incompatible with everyone on the site!

Helps people create and share their romantic journeys, with a multitude of members from around the globe. I have two friends who claim that the settings are a nightmare for Zoosk and that it was almost impossible to filter your choices down  to location for example. Not cheap either.

Probably with the broadest reach of the hundreds of lesbian and gay sites on the net, plus news, features, travel tips, fashion and gossip.

Friend Finder
Webcam chats, an online magazine and plenty of advice.

The net’s biggest Jewish dating service, with often hilariously self-deprecating personal descriptions.

Christian Connection
Christian Connection is the largest and longest established subscriber based UK Christian dating site. According to a friend the  choices, with a lack of diversity on this site.

Getting back out there when you have a child can be hard. Dating For Parents aims to unite like-minded single parents who will understand the unique pressures, challenges and joys of having children.

Please remember to exercise caution, people are not always who they claim to be. Never give out personal information and always meet in a public place. Also, if you are unsure at all, tell a friend or family member exactly where you are going and keep your mobile phone handy.